Issue #169  1/11/2010
Recent Photo Dealer Catalogues

By Matt Damsker

"TEACHERS OF THE NEW BAUHAUS" is an appreciation of a key moment in modernism: the establishment in 1937 of The New Bauhaus school of art, design and photography in Chicago, under the aegis of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who essentially transplanted what he and Walter Gropius had founded in Germany before the Nazis forced them out. Produced by Chicago's Stephen Daiter Gallery, this catalogue collects great experimental images by Moholy-Nagy and other lions of the New Bauhaus, including Gyorgy Kepes' hand-gouached portraits, shadow collages and pure abstractions; Arthur Siegel's negative/positive profiles and photograms; Harry Callahan's classic shots of a skinny weed against the sky and pregnant wife Eleanor emerging from primordial darkness; Wayne F. Miller's social documentation; and, perhaps most powerfully, Aaron Siskind's expressionistic textural studies of strange surfaces in Chicago and Mexico. Information: http://www.stephendaitergallery.com .

From Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books in London, "TRIBAL PORTRAITS" offers more than 150 vintage and contemporary photographs from the African continent, including important images from Irving Penn (five bare-breasted girls from the Dahomey tribe, posed elegantly and serenely in the studio) and Leni Reifenstahl (a 1974 color image of Nuba dancers in a palpable haze of heat and dust), but none of the photos in this catalogue seem unimportant. Certainly not the sensitive images of children captured by African photographer Malick Sidibe; the sensual North African nudes of Lehnert and Landrock, from early in the 20th century; the noble profiles of Masai and Turkana women by Mirella Ricciardi; the great warrior and priest close-ups of Pierre Verger; the powerful studies of long-limbed Dinkas by George Rodger; or Stephane Graffe's recent portraits of cloaked or shadowed Moroccan women. There are also many fine anthropological and portrait studies by unknown photographers. Information: email: roland@shapero.com, or http://www.shapero.com.

"ROGER MAYNE AT 80" is "a celebratory exhibition of photographs" from London's Bernard Quaritch Ltd.--38 in all, and a wonderful array of Mayne's richly tonal, naturalistic black-and-white images from the 1950s and early '60s. This typically finely printed catalogue from Quaritch includes a personal appreciation of Mayne's journey (he's still working, now in digital) by wife Ann Jellicoe and an excellent sampling of his street photography, mostly images of British children and young adults, with their wary, tough, post-war demeanors in a scarred London landscape. Also some interesting shots from Costa del Sol and Sicily. Information: by email: rarebooks@quaritch.com, or http://www.quaritch.com.

Finally, there's a fascinating monograph of 20 photos by the little-known California-based photographer LEOPOLD HUGO, from the personal collection Danny Kessler, who notes that Hugo (1866-1933) was a Polish immigrant who settled in La Jolla, CA, sold photographic postcards of the local beaches and scenery, and became head photographer for the San Diego Panama Canal Exposition in 1915. Hugo's softly focused images of La Jolla's wind-sculpted, bonsai-like trees and the surf and coves of his Southern California landscape are worthy examples of Pictorialism. One image--Untitled #20--is indisputably great: a foggy sighting of what looks to be a four-masted schooner braving rough seas in the middle distance, under low skies. The dark ship seems to be moving through the frame like an apparition, a Flying Dutchman that, once glimpsed, can never be forgotten.

Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005. He currently reviews books for U.S.A. Today.

(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive. Books must be aimed at photography collecting, not how-to books for photographers.)